Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
¢ Souvenir toothpick holder, "Shoot-the-Chutes, Dreamland, Coney Island," picture of Coney Island, gold luster, early 1900s, 2 inches, $125.
¢ Tiffany sterling-silver bonbon spoon, Holly pattern, gilt bowl marked "Tiffany & Co.," 1907-47, 3 3/4 inches, $145.
¢ Mickey Mouse doll, wooden, jointed, saucer hands, decal on front, Disney label on base, 1930s, 4 1/2 inches, $360.
¢ Police telegraph-signal box, iron, candle-type telephone plaque marked "F Wagon, S Wagon, Ambulance, Report," Gamewell Co., 1930s, 20-by-16-by-7 inches, $315.
¢ Howdy Doody floating bath-soap dish and squeeze toy, Howdy sitting on raft on box, by Spunky, 1950s, 4 1/2-by-7 1/2 inches, $465.
¢ Needlepoint sampler, cotton on linen, cross-stitched "Dear Little House, Done by Mary Clark Kieffer for granddaughter, Elizabeth Clark, Christmas 1929," 15-by-12 inches, $490.
¢ Leather holster, metal plate, copy of original patent, manufactured by Kittridge & Co., Cincinnati, April 21, 1863, 11 1/2 inches, $575..
American furniture made with painted decorations is nothing new. From the days of the early 17th century until today, brightly colored paint has been used on furniture. There are three types of painting: plain overall color; painting that imitates wood, marble or other finishes; and "fancy" painting that's imaginative. Painted decoration could imitate fancy wood inlay or primitive country designs. In the 1820s, painted scenes on Windsor chairs became popular. The "Salem" rocker, inspired by Windsor chairs, appeared. It has arms, a scooped seat and a wide top rail, the perfect place for a small painted picture. Sometimes the back as well as the front of the rail was decorated. Painted designs and wooden rocking chairs were out of fashion by 1900. But modern copies of these chairs are again available.
Q: Could you tell me something about the little figurines called "Snow Babies"? Where were they first made, and are they still being made?
A: The first Snow Babies were made of sugar candy and used as Christmas decorations. The ceramic figurines you're referring to were made from bisque (unglazed clay) covered with crushed bisque "snowflakes." They were introduced in 1864 by Hertwig and Co. of Thuringia, Germany. Other German and Japanese companies copied the Hertwig designs, and today some of the original molds are being used in Germany to make new Snow Baby figurines. Similar figurines called "Snowbabies" (note the difference in spelling) also have been made since 1986 by Department 56, part of the Lenox Group.
Q: I have a copy of the April 4, 1903, issue of the St. Paul Daily News. It's printed on silk. I understand a silk copy was to be given to President Theodore Roosevelt on his visit to St. Paul that day. Was printing newspapers on silk common? I'm thinking of donating the newspaper to the Newseum in Washington, D.C., but need to know what it's worth.
A: Printing souvenir copies of newspapers was more common in Australia than in the United States. Those printed here date from around the turn of the 20th century. The St. Paul Daily News was published from about 1900 to 1933. The value of your newspaper depends partly on its condition, but even if it's in tiptop shape, its value is hard to determine because few are ever offered for sale.
Q: I have some radio and television premium rings my father saved from his childhood. When I go to local flea markets, I never see them and I'm wondering if they're worth anything. Two of my favorites are a silvery Superman "Crusader" ring and a "Sky King Signal" ring that glows in the dark and has a secret compartment.
A: Both of your rings, and possibly others in your father's collection, are wanted by collectors. The two you identified for us are from the 1940s, when "Sky King" and "The Adventures of Superman" were both radio shows. Sponsors of those shows and lots of others offered premiums like rings to kids who mailed in box tops or labels. Today your Sky King ring is valued at $75 to $250, depending on condition, and your Superman ring is worth at least that much.
Q: The word "flashing" is used in descriptions of old colored-glass dresser boxes I see for sale online. What does it mean?
A: There are two ways to make colored glass. One is to mix chemicals into the glass and then heat it. The other is to apply something to the outside of the glass. Flashing is done by adding a second thin layer of glass to the outside of the piece. But collectors often incorrectly use the term "flashing" interchangeably with "staining." Glass is stained by coating it with a paintlike substance, then refiring it. Glass pieces with color that's chipping is probably stained, not flashed. Staining, flashing and enameling became widely used methods of color-coating glass in the 1880s. All the methods are still being used.
Q: I am hoping you can tell me who made my antique vase. It's marked "JM Austria."
A: Your vase probably was made at the Johann Maresch pottery company or its successor, the Ferdinand Maresch factory. Both firms used the JM mark. The factory operated in Aussig, Bohemia (now Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic), from 1841 until the 1940s. Aussig was in Austria-Hungary until the end of World War I, when the borders moved and Czechoslovakia was created. So your vase was made well before 1920.
Tip: Smoking is bad for the health of your antiques. Smoke causes discoloration and weakens textiles. It's another reason to stop smoking.
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